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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Iran: A prisoner hanged, 3 dozen death verdicts issued in run-up to elections

The Iranian regime's henchmen in the main prison of the northern city of Gorgan secretly hanged a 52-year-old man who had been arrested on drug-related charges.

The Iranian regime's judiciary has recently confirmed death sentences for at least 40 prisoners that are being held in Gezel-Hessar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran. Most of the prisoners had asked for their cases to be reviewed but their death sentence were confirmed within 1-2 days and they were informed of the final verdicts on Sunday.

In the run-up to the sham elections in Iran, Iran's clerical regime has intensified issuing death sentences, handing down long prison terms and carrying out cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in public.

Amnesty International said in its yearly report on violations of human rights in Iran: "The authorities continued to use the death penalty extensively, and carried out numerous executions, including of juvenile offenders. Some executions were conducted in public."

"Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity; prison conditions were harsh. Unfair trials continued, in some cases resulting in death sentences."

"Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least 4 juvenile offenders, were executed."

"Courts continued to impose, and the authorities continued to carry out, punishments that violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. These were sometimes carried out in public and included flogging, blinding and amputations. On 3 March the authorities in Karaj deliberately blinded a man in his left eye after a court sentenced him to 'retribution-in-kind' (qesas) for throwing acid into the face of another man. He also faced blinding of his right eye."

Source: NCRI, Feb. 26, 2016

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